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Honoring My Mother: Where do the children play?

No joke. At the local subdivision grocery, while I was waiting for my turn to pay, a group of children huddled over the ice cream freezer. I guess the debate on what flavor to choose had long been agreed on because, aside from animatedly complaining about the sweltering heat, they all agreed that this summer vacation had indeed been “boring.”

Seriously? These children of the suburbs have it so good. Luckily blessed with mountain bikes (hastily parked and blocking the entrance), and pocket money to splurge on ice cream and such, to boldly proclaim that their predicament was boring definitely merits a big fat whaaat.

My friend, tasked with taking care of five nieces and nephews, likewise offers the same observation. Even with a spacious sala filled with gadgets and gameboards of all types, his charges still complain and declare that they are “bored”.

No words for this. Years prior to this gadget invasion, as cultural workers, we used to hold children’s theater workshops every summer; meant to keep kids of middle and low-income families busy with an endless array of outdoor activities. These days, a few workshops of this kind are still being conducted but a handful however, have become more profit-oriented and tagged with exorbitant admission fees.

In comparison, training camps like Milo, for tennis, swimming and basketball have continued to flourish, but even these have attracted a steadily dwindling number of kids. My tennis coaching friends continually rue that most children nowadays would rather spend their vacation behind mall game zones or behind their own personal gadgets. As a result, only kids with tennister parents or those with school and sport commission scholarships can be seen attending the camps.

On the whole, a world of difference exists between rural and city cherubs when it comes to spending summertime. Contrary to popular belief, the now-called Filipino games (dubbed so because of an urban-contrived perception that they have become a rarity, hence exotic), still endure in the provinces and even in city sidestreets, where they still maintain a following; among children of low-income families. Games like Tug-of-war, tumbang preso, and Tigso among others, lord it over during the course of summer. In the countrysides, these could even be augmented with occasional dives in streams and rivers. In comparison, a large chunk of their urban counterparts have moved indoors, behind game consoles and mobile phone screens.

In fairness to the new generations of urban children however, the advent of modern toys and gadgets, is not the sole culprit for their present-day actuations. Don’t forget, similar diversions have likewise been introduced during the different eras of past generations. Being such, how we, collectively as children, have managed to cope with modernity should be the one to be held as suspect.

In the end, everything will eventually wind its way back to the 64-dollar question: how have the parents of all generations raised their children? Harsh.

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